The Waterloo Market, Belgium

Gert and I have twice enjoyed one of the Europe's top 10 markets ... the Waterloo Market, in recent days.  We first heard of it via BBC's Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is and loved the idea that we could rummage around, with the possibility of finding both genuine antiques and quirky collectables there.  As a New Zealander, from a country young in collectable material history, I loved the age of everything ... and the European flavour too.

The market is held every Sunday, in the carpark of the Carrefour supermarket in Waterloo.  There are so many small stalls that it took us 3 hours walking to explore them all today.   Last weekend, unprepared for the heat and having left the house without breakfast, we gave up our exploration as heat exhaustion set in.

This Sunday we were ready.  A good breakfast, sunhats, a bottle of water, comfortable shoes ... no worries, mate.  We were off and wandering with relaxed intent.

And I came home with a few small treasures.  I couldn't afford the beautiful 19th century travel writing desk at 40euro, nor could I justify the darling old 1960s opera binocular glasses 10euro, or the exquisitely-shaped whisky hip flask but ... I did buy a pipe-rack for 7 euro.  The quote on it will make a pipe-collector of me.  And I picked up my first, a clay-pipe, for 3euro.

But it was the little blue leather coin purse pictured below, by Neiman Marcus, that I loved best.  The woman gave it to me for 1euro when she saw I only had a 20euro note.  I wasn't even haggling because she had only wanted 3euro total. 

It works like a pelican's beak perhaps.  The silk-lined leather pouch expands as you fill it with coins.  I love it.

Parking isn't usually a problem, there are clean toilets in the Carrefour complex, and there is a range of places to eat.  The market itself is laid out in an easy to explore grid too - so we backtracked to a couple of retailers, just in case the traveling writing desk became justifiable  ... 

Highly recommended.